John Macauley (Drumquin, Ireland, to Collector, NSW, Australia)

JOHN MACAULEY  – Born Drumquin (Northern Ireland) 1784, died Goulburn (NSW, Australia) 1889.

We start our history in the year 1784 when Arthur Macauley was born in the town of Drumquin, County of Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Not much is known of Arthur’s life except that he  married Mary Hetherington who was also born in the same area.

The child we are concerned about here is John who was born in Drumquin on 12 October 1809. Other research has identified other siblings but, to the best of our knowledge, they stayed in Northern Ireland. John grew up in Ireland,  studied Law and had a great career ahead of him as a Solicitor. That was until he fell in love with Eleanor McCuskie, the daughter of Moses McCuskie and Eliza Gilmore. Eleanor was born in Drumquin in 1820. It seems that the McCuskie family were not in the same standing in the community as were the Macauleys and John was told in no uncertain terms that if he went ahead with the marriage he would be disinherited (of what we do not know). Love won the day and John and Eleanor were married  in 1839. With John being a solicitor, they were not on the list for people wanted in Australia. However, farmers and farm workers were in high demand for emigration to Australia. At that time there was a scheme called Bounty Immigrants. This was one of several assisted immigration schemes to attract free settlers to Australia, particularly those who had experience of farming. This did not put them off, they applied and were sponsored by A. B. Smith and Coy.  John, of course, being well versed in law and wanting to obtain an assisted passage conveniently became a farm servant and Eleanor remained what she was, a dairy woman. They boarded the ship Brothers  from Liverpool, UK, on 14 September 1840 as Bounty Immigrants and 11 March 1841 saw the safe arrival of John and Eleanor in Sydney after a 6 month journey across the sea. Both were in very good health on boarding and both listed as Presbyterians.

The name of the ship, Brothers, was very fitting as they eventually had six sons well known in the Goulburn district as the “six bearded brothers”. John apparently did a bit of fiddling, firstly with his occupation, and then with his age as on the ship’s papers they are listed as : Eleanor dairy woman age 19, John farm servant age 26. This does not tally with his date of birth so his age had to be altered to suit the occasion (he would have been 31).

It is not known what John did in his early years in Australia but we could presume that, under the conditions of sponsorship by A. B. Smith and Coy he would have been sent to work on a farm for a certain number of years before being granted his own land as a free settler. In the late 1850s or early 1860s, he was granted land as a free settler in the Goulburn district. The selection was between Collector and Breadalbane and he named his farm Milbang. Nevertheless, even with the acquisition of this prime land he enjoyed only minimal success. John was, after all,  a lawyer and a writer, not a farmer, and more frustrations than he knew how to cope with befell him in this strange and new profession. However, he was well regarded for his steadfast friendship, defence of the honourable and champion of the underdog. With attributes such as those, his lack of skills with a pair of sheep shears is hardly of any consequence. There are tales of John being sympathetically disposed towards some of our illustrious bushrangers (now folk heroes) who were roaming the Goulburn district in those early years of our first settlers. He claimed they were not all outlaws but victims of social injustice. There were rumours that he may have on occasions been instrumental in some poor sod escaping arrest by the then dreaded constabulary.

The six brothers all grew up in the Goulburn district and with only 14 years between the oldest and the youngest they were a close knit bunch. They were all good sportsmen and played sport together in the Collector area. They not only played but were keen followers of all sport, especially cricket. The local newspaper, The Goulburn Evening Penny Post, would record the scores of the Collector Cricket Club in its early days. As young men they all had great white beards. Attending test cricket matches in Sydney, they always sat together in the Sheridan Stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground and in the same seats every day of the test match. Apparently a keen observer who worked for the Sydney Morning Herald noticed this and took a photo of them which appeared in the Sydney paper the next day, headed “The six white bearded brothers from Goulburn” with the story telling how they sat in the same seats in the same stand every day of the test match. This is probably their only claim to fame as it received a lot of publicity in both the Sydney and Goulburn papers.

John and Eleanor had a family of six boys and two girls, the first born was Elizabeth in 1844 then William in 1845, Robert in 1847, James in 1850, John in 1851, Thomas in 1855, Margaret in 1856, and Edward in 1859. Most of them lived their early lives in the Goulburn and surrounding areas, but William shifted to the Wagga Wagga district early in his life, purchasing the 640 acre property Brucedale in 1868. He played a big part in the building of the Methodist Church  on this property and it still stands today. After 13 years at Brucedale William shifted to Mimosa but lived most of his life in Coolamon. Elizabeth married William Poidevan and lived in Goulburn. Robert, James, John and Thomas all seem to have had interests in the land around Goulburn, Bungendore and Bangalore.

Edward married Elizabeth Grainger on 16 January 1883 and they took over the Milbang farm. Edward was born to farm life – much different to his father. Edward turned Milbang into a prosperous grazing property as well as a large orchard. Edward and Elizabeth were hard working but gentle and generous people, good living and good church people. Edward would always be sending cases of fruit from his orchard to many families, who were beginning to spread out from the Goulburn district.

Edward and Elizabeth had three sons and one daughter. Edward died at Collector on 3 February 1940, and Elizabeth died on 10 September 1944. They are both buried in the Uniting Church cemetery in Collector next to their son William.

John Macauley died on 11 August 1889 in Collector NSW. Eleanor died on 9 July 1903. They are both buried in the Uniting Church cemetery plot 38 at Collector.

Ship - Brothers, London to Adelaide and Port Philip 1850 copy

The ship “Brothers”


Gravestone of John and Eleanor Macauley at Collector, NSW, Australia
Gravestone of John and Eleanor Macauley at Collector, NSW, Australia

Text supplied by Edward G. Macauley, NSW, Australia